YEREVAN (Noyan Tapan)–The statesmen have the right to state their personal opinions or even give preference to certain candidates for Catholicos–but they should not interfere in the elections of the Catholicos–Locum Tenens Archbishop Nerses Pozapalian told Noyan Tapan.
Pozapalian said there has already been such an interference. According to His Holiness–"two top officials" visited the Holy See of Etchmiadzin and conveyed the authorities’ wish to see one of the candidates on the post of the Catholicos. The Archbishop refused to name these persons and pointed out that their visit was the reason why a number of high-ranking clergymen–including Pozapalian himself–issued the recently published statement–saying that they "consider interference inadmissible."
"Our state representative’s proposal can be accepted provided that they are able to inspire great confidence in our people. But when most of our people are in heavy economic conditions–a statesman who interferes [in the elections of Catholicos] will not inspire confidence in the people–and his interference will be misinterpreted," Pozapalian said. He pointed out that the four years of Karekin I’s being Patriarch were "fruitful years–but they were not properly accepted by our people," because then-president Levon Ter-Petrosyan "directly interfered" in the elections of the Catholicos. At the same time–Pozapalian stressed that Karekin I "was the most prominent Armenian clergyman of the latter half of the 20th century–an outstanding thinker and theologian."
Responding to the question concerning a possible split in the Church as a result of the elections of the Catholicos–His Holiness said: "Some unrest may take place–but we are all the sons of one Church and will certainly be together in any case."
Addressing the problems of the Armenian Apostolic Church–His Holiness emphasized the importance of the Church keeping pace with the times. He said that Church-people relations are poor. "We are going to celebrate the 1700th anniversary of Christianity in Armenia–but–unfortunately–the people are not Christian yet," Pozapalian said. To involve the young generation in the Church’s work–versatile educational activities are necessary.
"We must do our best for our Church to belong to the people of Armenia and the Diaspora," His Holiness said.
Stressing that the struggle against sectarianism is the Church’s problem–Pozapalian pointed out that the penetration of sectarians in Armenia is a encroachment not only on the Church but also on the Armenian people–Armenian statehood and unity. "In former times half a million people would gather at rallies–how many people will gather today? The unity [of Armenia’s] inflicted damage on certain Western organizations. Do not ever doubt that the penetration of sectarians is part of the policy pursued by the West."
Pozapalian also stressed the need for clarifying Church-state relations and specifying "problems that should be resolved jointly and problems that should be resolved separately–all the while taking into the account the interests of our people."
Responding to a question about his running for Catholicos–Pozapalian said: "I am free to choose whether or not to run for Catholicos until the last day. Why shouldn’t I run? Or–I see a worthier candidate why should I? Allow me to enjoy my freedom until the last day."